A DIY Christmas - Painting

Now that Christmas is over, I can finally share some of the DIY Christmas gifts that I made.  I did not expect to share most of these pictures, so sorry (not sorry) for the terrible picture quality and messes in the the background of almost every pulled back shot... I would rather spend time creating than cleaning.
This first one (above right) was pretty quick and easy.  I put dots of black and white all over the mat and let Cora go wild.  She added some more paint on her own and discovered a couple new painting techniques while she was working on this... it mostly involved her flinging paint everywhere.  I printed the 11x14" out through Shutterfly and taped it on the filler paper that comes with the frame (both frames were purchased at IKEA).

This next one took me a little longer.  Going along with the unintentional Wisconsin sunset theme, I decided to do a painting inspired by a picture I took of my sister and brother-in-law sitting on the dock together.  I started out by painting the whole canvas area gray (moodier sunset), sketched out a rough idea of where the horizon/trees, dock, and people were, then added in larger blocks of color.

I started adding in the warmer colors of the sun and played around with how that would look in the sky.  I also started working in more colors and details into the water.

Looking back, I kind of love how it looked here ^ but I'm also super happy with the final result, so I'm glad that I kept working on it.  below is where I hit my oh-crap-why-did-I-think-this-would-be-a-good-present stage of creating.  While I was really happy with the water, the sky was a challenge for me and I had to take a break from it for a couple days.

Quick sidetrack: in my art class in high school, we used magazines as palettes, so I started taking the leftover paint and folding the paper to make ink blot-ish art.  I still love to do that these days and will usually make sure to also put the 'blot' in my sketchbook so I have another layer to sketch on.  Here I used some of Alisa Burke's coloring page printouts as palettes.  I'll let it dry and then make a card or something out of it.

Back to the painting... So I kept at it and tried some different textures for the sky and finally came up with something I love.  I added all of the black/dark gray details and called it finished.  I couldn't get a super accurate picture color-wise because of the lighting in our home is always dark, but I also think this piece looks a million times better in person because you can see all of the details and texture.

I threw it in a frame and let it hang on my wall for a couple days before I wrapped it up.


A DIY Christmas - Nutcracker

Hey friends!  I hope you enjoyed your holiday festivities.  Now that Christmas is over, I can finally share some of the DIY Christmas gifts that Cora and I made without tipping off the receiver of the gift.
My dad collects Nutcrackers so I thought it would be a fun idea for Cora to paint one for him. I've had this idea for a while, but I kept forgetting to pick up a Nutcracker at the store.  By the time I started looking they were practically impossible to find (how is that possible a week before Christmas?!).  It seemed like Target had a couple good options to pick from... until I got to the store and this was the last Nutcracker that would even work for my project (the other ones were mostly cloth).  I hurried home and got started.
1. Peel off all of the hair, fur, and accessories.  Make sure to take a picture for later reference.
2. Tape off the face and hands so I could paint everything white and give it a nice base.

3. Take off all the tape to make sure the paint didn't bleed all over. It was this point that I realized the nose is crooked.  Think it's too late to return it to Target?
4. Retape the face and hands and wait for little child to be ready to paint.

5. Let child go hogwild with paint.  Cora did 100% of the painting.  We encouraged her to fill in some of the blank areas by telling her to write her name in those spots (something she loves to do), but she took complete ownership of this step and scolded us if we even came close to touching the paintbrush.

6. Remove tape and wonder if this was a good idea (I don't think I've ever had a project where I didn't have this thought at some point)
6. Add doodles and embellishments with paint pen... continue to wonder if this was a good idea.

7. Hot glue the fur, hair, and accessories back on.

I couldn't decide if I wanted to put the brown shawl back on, but ended up opting out.  Without it on, you can see more paint and details which is really the whole point of this present.

I'm loving the final piece!  My dad really enjoys adding this to his collection and I know he'll love pulling out year after year.  I'm all for gifting children's artwork in a practical way and this is perfect.


Christmas Activities With Cora

Cora is old enough to really enjoy Christmas activities, so we've been going to one or two different things a week.  We had a movie showing and Santa one weekend, breakfast with Santa at church another weekend, and a nice little party at school.  I didn't get many pictures from these events, but here are a couple pictures from the breakfast with Santa event where they had crafting, donuts, games, and Santa:

When Santa asked Cora what she wanted for Christmas, Cora just said she wanted a treat.
Merry Christmas friends!
I'll be back next week with some pictures of my DIY Christmas presents and maybe a couple other projects.
See past Christmas posts here!


Yarn Wrapped Letter Ornament Tutorial

Yes, I'm sharing a Christmas themed craft so early in the season.  I love the occasional christmas song and seeing some things around, but I'm generally against all out celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving has even arrived... so I surprised myself a little when Cora and I were Targeting a couple weeks ago and I decided to check out the Christmas section.  I figured it was fun for her to check out all of the Christmas things (picture her going "WOOOWW!" as she looks up at the giant white trees), but I also came away with a little inspiration.  I saw this yarn wrapped ornament and almost bought it for Cora before I quickly reminded myself "Why buy when you can DIY?!".  So I got busy after Cora fell asleep and whipped this thing up in under an hour.

+ cardboard
+ tape
+ glue gun
+ 2-4 colors of yarn

1. Trace out desired letter twice (I've found it's a little easier when the letters are less curvy) 
2. Cut out letters

3. Cut out long thin strip about 1/2"- 1" (this will be the thickness of your ornament)
4. Use about 2" long pieces of tape to tape the thin strip between the letter pieces... I found it was helpful to 'loosen' up the strip of cardboard by running it between my pinched fingers at an angle.

5. Cover ends of letter shape with yarn
6. Wrap the yarn around the letter and hot glueing only on one side.  Make sure to glue in the middle of the shape instead of the edge.  I found glueing at the edges then wrapping made the yarn push the hot glue up a little bit and made it slightly visible. (sidenote: check out my hot glue gun set up, ha!)

7. Wrap until finished... be very generous with the glue on the ends, so the yarn doesn't slide off.
8. Braid yarn and add a loop for hanging on the Christmas tree.

Here is Target's version vs my version:

While the initial cost for the DIY would be higher than the cost of one ornament (3 skeins of cheap yarn is probably around $10) there would be a lot of extra yarn leftover and you can make tons of ornaments (or other crafts) with the yarn. Overall, a pretty easy/fun DIY and I love thinking of all of the color combinations I can make.
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